Which of the following two sentences is correct?

a) Which of the two boxes is preferable ?

b) Which of the two boxes is more preferred?

I think it should be a) because Oxford dictionary online says preferable means:

More desirable or suitable:
While it would be preferable if the Complainant did so, it is incorrect to imply that only he can do this.

Moreover, from other sources of internet I get that preferred is used as favourite as in “my preferred site is StackExchange”.

So, more preferred is not making any sense to me.

However, the mostly reliable answer key points that the correct answer is b)! So I am confused and need your guidance.

  • 1
    is that (d) no improvement? That looks odd thing out there! :(
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 9:43
  • Is that fill in the blank? The italicized words are the answers? Or your answers? From where do they come? There's no option like more preferable in all a, b, c, d. What is that option (d)? If the question paper contains (d) even as an option, I don't think you should ever take a test from such source! :)
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 10:57
  • 2
    I agree with you. Which of the two boxes is preferable? sounds perfect. Saying Which of the two boxes is more preferred, sounds about as bad as saying, Which of the two boxes is more most-liked. Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 7:26
  • The original Latin word, "praefero" means "to carry X in front of Y," and therefore "to want X more than Y." I know that etymology does not always influence meaning directly, but in this case, I think the English "prefer" still carries the sense of comparing one thing to another. So "X is preferable" means "X is carried in front (of some other alternative)." Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 11:02
  • You could even use "more preferable".
    – v kumar
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 6:29

3 Answers 3


They are both correct but mean slightly different things. "Which of the two boxes is preferable?" would be appropriate if you were asking which box is best suited to something, whereas "Which of the two boxes is more preferred?" would be like asking which box people prefer.

But you are somewhat right about 'more preferred' being odd. It wouldn't generally be used by a native speaker, though it is not inherently 'wrong'.


Preferable is an adjective describing the boxes. In case (a) you are asking which of the boxes has more desirable qualities than the other. This is question you would most likely ask to a person to get their opinion.

Preferred is a verb. In case (b) you are asking which of the boxes would be more likely asking a statistics question, how many people would prefer box 1 and how many would prefer box 2. Box is the object of the question, and there is an unwritten subject who I am just classifying as "people" for this discussion.

For the second, I think the better question would be "Which of the two boxes is MOST preferred?" It depends on context.


I would say, According to Bryan Garner, "complete" is one of those adjectives that does not admit of comparative degrees. We could say, however, "more nearly complete." I am sure that I have not been consistent in my application of this principle in the Guide (I can hear myself, now, saying something like "less adequate" or "more preferable" or "less fatal"). Hence..a) is correct!!

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